Diabetes is one of the major chronic
epidemics worldwide responsible for 4.0 million of non-communicable deaths in
2017 according to the recent statistics of the International Diabetes
Federation (IDF) 1. Diabetes mellitus (DM) is probably one of the oldest
diseases known to man and was first reported in Egyptian manuscript about 3000
years ago 2. Diabetes mellitus, a metabolic disorder or disease that arises
due to defects in the secretion of insulin by the ?-cells  of the pancreas and/or insulin action and
response leading to increase in blood sugar accompanying by an imbalance in
carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism 3. The incidence of diabetes
mellitus has increased dramatically in recent years due to changes in lifestyle
and increase in the prevalence of obesity 3. Today, almost 425 million people
in the world are living with diabetes and this number is expected to increase
to 629 million by 2045 (48 % increase), if no appropriate action is taken 1.
The evident increase in disease incidence and the higher frequency of the
chronic complications due to microvascular (e.g., nephropathy and retinopathy)
and macrovascular (stroke, macrovascular coronary and peripheral artery
diseases) alterations 4. Thus, the difficulties for controlling DM make it a
challenge when considering health issues in the 21st century.

According to IDF, the situation in
the Middle East and KSA is even more worrying with a dramatic increase in
diabetes prevalence. Indeed, the recent data predict the highest prevalence
rate (>12%) of diabetes in KSA and other neighbouring countries 1.

Prevention and early treatment is
therefore important because diabetes interrupts normal developments in children
and carries the threat of severe complication in more active period of life
5. However, no cure has yet been found for the disease 2. Currently
available synthetic anti-diabetic agents produce serious side effects such as
hypoglycaemic coma and hepato-renal complications 2. Moreover, the
utilization of some medicines acting as insulin secretagogues or sensitizers is
often associated with weight gain and such anti-diabetic products are not safe
for use during pregnancy. Hence, the search for natural, safer and more
effective hypoglycaemic agents has continued tremendously 3.

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There
has been an increase in the use of natural health products as a substitute to the
currently used pharmacology medications. Of such alternative is the use of plant
sources that have become interesting and novel targets to explore for the
development of new drugs and in search for biologically active compounds. According
to previous reports, in traditional medicine, more than 1200 plants are
currently in use for their supposed hypoglycaemic potentials. The search for
anti-diabetic agents from plant sources is thus of great importance. Some of
these plants have dual functionality; serving as a source of food and at the
same as medicine for DM management and of other ailments as well 6.

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